Sprengling knew that he would be out of the country at the time of my oral examination in later May 1926. He told me not to worry about any testing of my ability in Classical Arabic as he had been satisfied with my performance in class. So I dropped that field out of my consideration and I boned up assiduously on other subjects. The examination itself dragged on for three hours. For well over two hours Breasted took me over the hurdles in hieroglyphic, hieratic, and history. The rest of the department sat back in boredom. Since Breasted's current interests were pretty well known, that long grind went off satisfactorily. Then he turned me over to the other examiners. There were a few desultory questions, and my answers were less precise because I was rather weary by that time. Then Breasted announced that, since the examiner in Arabic was not present, he himself would set some questions. The shock of that unexpected attack emptied my brain. Not only could I not translate the Arabic, I could not even pronounce it. It was a sorry performance.
At long last I was excused and went outside into the museum to wait for the examining committee to make its decision. I was in despair. How could they pass me after such a collapse? The wait seemed interminable. Finally the secretary of the Department, George Allen, came out to summon me. In his characteristically cautious way he told me first that they had been disappointed. Then he went on to elaborate: instead of passing me summa cum laude, they have been forced to pass me only magna cum laude.